Pamela Slutz, Acting Director American Institute in Taiwan Remarks for the Importer and Exporter Association of Taipei March 1, 2002
It is a great honor for me to be speaking before this distinguished group today. We have always worked closely with the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei. This occasion allows me the opportunity to congratulate the people of Taiwan on your accession to the WTO. The friendship and strong ties between our peoples will increase with this new economic openness.
To begin today, I would like to recount a story that exemplifies the innovative spirit for which Taiwan is so well known internationally. Just a few weeks ago in a young inventors competition sponsored by the Far East Economic Review, a graduate student from Taiwan, Yu Chen-Chi, won recognition for developing a method to vaccinate fish using recombinant DNA and E. coli bacteria. Now, I admit that as a diplomat with no training in the illnesses of fish, I had not considered the need for such technology, but luckily this young innovator found a workable solution to a problem which causes considerable expense to local fish growers, and therefore to consumers. He developed the technology, applied for a patent in the United States, and already has offers to commercialize it.
Open markets and WTO membership will provide for Mr. Yu international protection for his novel contribution to science, support for the international investment which may underwrite the development of these vaccines, and access to customers worldwide. It is inventors and entrepreneurs like the young Mr. Yu who heighten all of our responsibilities in the fight for economic and political opportunity.
Certainly, Taiwan and the United States share much in our love of freedom and of free enterprise. Economic freedom builds prosperous communities and provides goods and services, but most importantly, free enterprise fosters free movement, property ownership, and democratic ideals.
Taiwan began with a focus on economic development and has translated economic success to democratic political structures. And so in addition to being a prosperous society which enjoys international respect for its values of freedom and democracy, Taiwan is also recording great economic achievements as a critical player in the global economy, and, of course, a major trading partner of the United States. The United States and Taiwan enjoy a two-way trade relationship supporting tens of thousands of jobs and worth about $52 billion last year, and our symbiotic relationship in information technology development and manufacturing forms a current bond between our two economies in this new but sometimes volatile global economy.
Today, I would like to share with you the policies that President Bush has enacted on international trade, and then talk more specifically about our trade relations with Taiwan.
Bush Trade Policy
The goals of the Bush Administration’s trade policy are simple and straightforward: to: to eliminate all barriers to the free flow of U.S. goods, services, investment and ideas. President Bush is committed to free trade because it is an engine of economic growth and security, job creation and innovation.
Just as he is focused on new agreements and opening markets, the President has made clear that compliance is a key priority for his administration. Achieving market access for American companies, and ensuring that our trading partners comply with the bilateral and multilateral trade agreements is fundamental to the expansion of global trade.
From my perspective, the current Doha round of trade talks provided two major successes on the global trading front. First, the Doha round will provide a new level of openness with new members acceding and current members affirming the intention of reducing ever- further the world’s trade barriers. But just as importantly, the agreement is a renewed commitment of each member to its existing obligations. Doha’s signal of forward progress on trade gives an endorsement and very timely boost to the multilateral trading system.
In tandem with the President’s support of new WTO negotiations, he is pushing forward domestically for Trade Promotion Authority, formerly known as fast track. When we have this legislation in hand, we will be able to negotiate more expeditiously with our trading partners.
The President understands fully that this authority provides deserved security to our trading partners. We want to be responsible members of the international community, and TPA will help us to that end.
But while we wait for TPA, we will not stop with negotiating new agreements, and I could not be more pleased to celebrate here today the accession of Taiwan to the WTO and the new paths that we will forge together.
Taiwan and WTO Accession
The beginning of such a momentous transition provides an opportunity for hope and prognosis on what accession to the WTO will mean for Taiwan and its relationship to the U.S. In understanding the complex relationship described by membership, I look to the master of simplicity Confucius. Confucius counseled each of us to “Have no friends not equal to yourself,” and like with all friendships, we expect equal commitment and equal treatment to the satisfaction of both sides of our ever-expanding international relationships.
From a broader perspective, Taiwan’s entry into the WTO is a proper recognition of the achievements of Taiwan’s people in building one of world’s strongest economies. There will be new opportunities on both sides of the Pacific in industrial production, financial services, telecommunications, and agriculture. The consumer in Taiwan will benefit as new products compete to provide better quality at lower prices. As non-tariff barriers and subsidies are eliminated, the best businesses will be freed to grow into their full potential. And internationally, Taiwan will have a place at the largest trade table and access to dispute settlement procedures to protect your own trade agreements.
In seeking to provide long term benefits and growth, every leader understands the difficulty of the necessary domestic changes. We appreciate greatly President Chen’s stated commitment to reform, privatization, and market opening. I note that, under his leadership, progress is being made. We encourage you to continue on that path, and urge you to look to the WTO’s principles of transparency and nondiscriminatory treatment as you move forward.
Need for Compliance
In my visits here already, I feel the desire and commitment of the business community and the authorities to overcome domestic impediments to openness so that your economy will reap the benefits of international access and engagement.
And now that Taiwan has achieved WTO membership, it must be vigilant about complying with its new obligations. Acceptance by the WTO shows the trust of your peers that you are honestly working to be an open economy. Failing in this, after Taiwan worked so long and hard to join the WTO would seriously damage Taiwan’s international image. Just as economic ties can bind, they can also rub raw previously sound relationships.
Taiwan’s leadership must not allow lapses in enforcement and implementation to denigrate its promises and international standing. More specifically, I am concerned about the significant problems in intellectual property protection that continue to plague Taiwan. The United States Special 301 priority watch list was created to designate economies with negligent enforcement of intellectual property protection, and I am sorry to see Taiwan on that list with our most serious offenders. Though you have made progress on passing legislation to ensure TRIPs compliance, optical media piracy and use of unlicensed software remain troubling and are unacceptable. Enforcement has been weak – from the backroom pirates of CDs and DVDs to the larger corporations who pirate business software; and until this property is protected, there will be an unfortunate strain on U.S.-Taiwan economic relations. Moreover, it will help your own economic advancement, and help Taiwan make the leap to the next level of technology production. You are increasingly producing world class intellectual property. Your own inventors – like Mr. Yu, whom I mentioned earlier – will– will not reap the benefits of their efforts unless you protect intellectual property.
On the many other trade issues, the authorities must ensure that Taiwan passes and implements all the laws, regulations and other measures required by its WTO commitments on schedule. They must ensure that Taiwan, indeed, provides the market access to its goods and services sectors committed to in the accession agreement, and that it takes no measures inconsistent with its commitments.
In conclusion, I would like to invoke a saying by Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s - “Free enterprise will work if you will.” The people of Taiwan have used their own entrepreneurship and economic freedom to achieve both an enviable prosperity and a strong democracy. Despite many obstacles, your success here is a mark of hope for other peoples struggling for freedom and hope. And as I assure you of the continued friendship and support of the United States as you strive to achieve your goals, let me also extend my personal congratulations and wish for a great future.